tv Jerry Yellin The Last Fighter Pilot CSPAN February 22, 2018 9:50pm-10:36pm EST
as we were downstairs getting ready to start the ceremony, captain jerry yellin was asking do i stand for the army with the air force because he was in the army air force. i said you are 93-years-old. you can stand for anybody you want to. [applause] army air force veteran who served in world war ii between 1941 and 1945. he enlisted on his 18th birthday just after the bombing of pearl harbor. after graduating as a fighter pilot in august of 1983, at the ripe old age of 19, he spent the remainder flying the p. 47 and 51 nation in the pacific with
the 78th fighter squadron. he participated in the first land-based missions over japan. on the 14th of august 1945 the data combat ended. his wing man was the last man killed imankilled in a combat mn world war ii. captured in his book the last fighter published earlier this year. please welcome to the platform the distinguished flying cross world war ii veteran and fighter pilot captain jerry yellin. [applause]
were the me men, no apologies to the women present but in world war ii there were no women in combat, not that they didn't serve. you and your generation properly referred to as the greatest generation set the standard for what it means to fight and win which is the basis of what is today the world's greatest air force but i proudly served in. you gave us the warrior ethos that defines who we are, and i'm talking about it from an air force perspective the same east coast to the same standards are present across all of the military service because men
like jerry yellin and your generation that gave it to us and i am so honored to be up here with you. we had talked about some questions we were going to go through but i've got to start with one. i am the son of a naval aviator. i've got a soft spot in my heart every time that i see one of why i am absolutely in awe. you've got to tell us what was it like flying the mustang? >> we learned the 220-horsepower and 400-horsepower and a 600-horsepower.
each of them usually with an instructor and a fighter plane that was being used by the general in china, the japanese and then do p. 47 which was a hard airplane to fly. then we got the finest airplane that was ever built and you can fly it out with your fingertips. the sound of it, the feeling of the response with anything that you wanted to do. ..
he will be available to autographed copies of the book. and you share your experiences as a fighter pilot specific to world war ii but although the book ends with it but walk us through that last mission the last fighter pilot the last mission 1945. >> and landed iwo jima august 6, the day the first atomic bomb was dropped in hiroshima and i had a squadron and said what you drinking? i want some. [laughter] so i was 19 years old and said if we do on this mission i'm not coming back.
i said what you talking about? he said it is a feeling that i have. i told him what schomburg told me. you cannot go as a flight sergeant he said no way. so early on the morning of august 14 and said get it and don't get off and stick close. so we flew to the drop tank and we went into the street airfield somewhere in japan. and we needed 90 gallons of fuel and i looked over and i gave him the thumbs up and he gave me the thumbs up and i
lead my planes into some very heavy weather we said we would fly on the wingback and when we came out into the their skies it was just fine. no radio contact. and when we landed back on iwo jima we realized the moment we started the spray the war had been over for three years. we never heard that the orders never came through so for some of those that gave their lives. >> you were 21? yes. i was an old guy. >> you just made reference to
the close friends and fellow pilots that were tragically killed in world war ii and relay this in your book so how did the loss of so many affect you? >> you have to understand when you put the uniform on for the policeman or the fire when you dedicate your life. when they go you cannot think of them as dead or gone because that affects the mission. into land on iwo jima i had a toothache.
and then to be in a mission the squadron took off 25 guys were killed. it is hard for me to tell you the truth but we were there to protect our freedom it was after the war that i suffered 30 years with those that i flew with and i thought about suicide and could not work and suffered from what is now known as ptsd i did not get my
life back until 1975. that is the height of evil. and to fight against those countries i don't believe i am part of the greatest generation. and with a west point graduate. >> i was 18. or the annapolis graduate. they were the greatest. >> so think about that catchy title the leaders of the free world were the military.
>> thank you for that perspective. the war ends 1945i thought i thought i heard you say downstairs you spent some time in the reserves beyond world war ii. and then you return from the war starting a whole new life and so that returning workforce and the work ethic and the belief in freedom you brought back to society really launched an incredible period in american history. how did your military service prepare you for that new life and what transpired after the war?
>> i think it was the greatest experience i have ever had in my life. in 1941 a had a scholarship to college i was going to become a doctor i didn't have any money for clothing or housing so when we were attacked on december 7 i made up my mind. i remember when i was 11 or 12i went to boy scout camp for two weeks and then they gave me the fundamentals to join the military and the discipline that we learned those who could fly the fighter planes and then to
become a squadron we were more interested in protecting our buddies and protecting our own lives. i have six grandchildren and it seems today life is all about me. but the military put me in that frame of mind with service to our country. >> thank you for setting the standard. >> you made reference to you or combat experience dealing
with pts although we didn't have a name for that at the time so how has your experience impacted your life since your triumph and struggles how have you used those experiences? >> i enjoy speaking to people eighth-graders or tenth graders or seniors in high school to talk about 10% of the population serving in the military our world war ii. 16million thought those who created democracies in germany and japan as friends of america and then to fight with the allies of russia and china seem to me are the enemies of the world.
i learned it is not the color of our skin or the language that we speak or the religion that we believe. but we have to preserve that. isis kills for what they believe and that is evil. we have to protect that. or everybody as part of humanity. probably the best time in my life was when i was in uniform and eyewear that proudly. mom -- i wear that proudly. >> what do you say? we have several young people here with the band and the wire with rotc cadets and
others. what would you say to them today? were they are considering or have an opportunity to make a decision about serving our nation as a member of the united states military? >> my mother used to read a lot of books and 80 years ago at 13 years old i wrote a book it was called the magnificent obsession. the story of a small town like new york state son of the richest 20 or 21-year-old boy and the beloved doctor dying on the phone -- of a heart attack.
the doctor died but then thousands of people came to his funeral. his family discovered a journal that he had kept and had that translated into english. the opening lines say do something good for someone else every day of your life and tell no one what you did because by talking about it loses the benefit to you. so i would suggest to everyone to find a way to do something to somebody every day even if it is a smile those four professions that i guard my our teachers who give
themselves away to use that subject to give other people knowledge. a tremendous amount of respect. but my feelings we should give a little bit of ourselves away to other people every single day. [applause] >> so for you what you described with veterans day a lot of people will say thank you for your service but service is our lives should be about every day to do something for someone else.
service is not just military but with our lives. >> we are all part of humanity. if we think of everything as living on this earth the trees, birds, fish, animals, it all comes with the territory and that has to be protected from what mothers pass on to their daughters and we need to keep doing that. but today that is what life is about. >> wonderful. so now we will open it up to see if our audience has questions they can ask you
directly. any final thought you would like to share? >> no. i am just proud to be an american. [applause] and then i can wear this uniform proudly. i cannot tell you what an honor it is to be in this audience on this day in 2017 so i look at my life like looking at the checking account there is money in the bank i could spend today and jeff that promissory note tomorrow so today is the day and i am just thrilled to be
here. >> thank you serve. we would like to open up with any questions you may have for captain yellin if you have a question please raise your hand. >> we do have time for a couple of questions and come to the microphone but i have a question this is broadcast worldwide through facebook and recorded by c-span so we have a very large audience and you suffered for a number of years with ptsd so what suggestion or guidance would you give to somebody listening to this that is in need of help? >> i was told i had battle fatigue and the war was over so forget about it. to the veterans today 20 commit suicide every day. they need something for
themselves. we spend a lot on antidepressant or antipsychotic drugs which is sometimes addictive or transcendental medication on -- meditation is a 700-dollar fee for a lifetime of health there is a website they can find out about it i still medicate twice a day 20 minutes a day i am alive and it is keeping me alive because you can't force it on anybody but it helps to remove the stress of combat. >> hello. my father-in-law is 94 from world war ii who flew over the himalayas from india and is
alive today and he does walk with a walker and i sit with a very good friend of mine who was 95 years old and went through combat in italy. they are still the 5% and if you have not read the book the greatest generation need to read that it is a wonderful book. >> i appreciate that. [applause] >> in preparation of coming here with your life after the war with that reconciliation i do know if you would take a moment just to share that? it is a long story but i would like everybody to hear that. >> i was a consultant in
california with asked me to go to japan to speak so with iwo jima you can replicate the site and the sounds but not the smell of 20000 bodies rotting in the sun i had no use for the japanese people and i said no. i'm too busy so i told my wife when i came home i turned down a trip to go to japan and said jerry you never asked me once if i wanted to go to japan. [laughter] so in 1983 and found myself there i was completely overwhelmed by the culture and education in the food and the scenery and everything they said we should give him a ship
japan as a graduation present he signed the contract 1984 to teach english in japan for one year now it is 2017 and he hasn't come back yet. so there. [laughter] he married the daughter of a, cause the pilot who hated me as much as i hated him and we became friends and family. the oldest is 28 has a masters in physics from mit in japan. and is one of 100 people who got a job. and then to graduate from a four-year course in philosophy
from the two-year course to get a masters in philosophy and the 21-year-old granddaughter so my enemy is my family and that whole thought process is my family in japan that is the biggest lesson i could learn i wrote a book about that i don't like to promote myself but that is the book i am proud of those of those three american grandchildren and my love for them. [applause]
>> we have time for one last question then we will hear from the choir as acing the dramatic battle hymn of the republic and afterwards jerry will be available to autograph copies of his book that is available in the lobby. >> thank you for your service and for keeping us safe in america. have you flown anything since or even gotten in a jet? having parents both in the navy have to say go army -- navy beat army. [laughter] [applause] >> you never lose the ability to make love once you get old
and you never lose the ability to fly i flew in phoenix two days ago. [applause] i flew the new. [roll call] at laughlin air force base in december and am going back to phoenix in january to get a ride in the f-16. [applause] they have a very small club of pilots today that are fighter pilots and they say they're
not going to let them do that. [laughter] >> not only did he fly that plane in the air force base he actually landed it be 17. >> i don't know how i got to be this age but i genuinely feel honored to be here with you with the marine chaplains that is one of the thrills and honors of my life. thank you very much. [applause] captain yellin, thank you we will begin with the battle hymn of the republic we will begin with the battle hymn of
>> a lot of people have taken heart the idea to learn something you have to have a degree and an institution in place who teaches you but i was not raised to think that's when i decided i wanted to skip college and felt like something i could do not because of a formal education but i will buy a book and learn it but i kept going with that.